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Transit challenge shows councillors 'pros and cons' of LRT

Transit challenge shows councillors 'pros and cons' of LRT

Feb 23, 2020

Ottawa (Canada) Feb 23: As their week of taking only public transit wraps up, councillors say they've experienced the good, the bad and the eggy on OC Transpo's new light rail system.
Most of Ottawa's city council is taking part in this year's #TransitChallenge2020, a pledge to take transit every day from Feb. 17 to 23 organized by transit advocates and environmental groups.
"My personal experience is when it works well, [the LRT] is worthwhile," said Kanata North Coun. Jenna Sudds on Thursday.
But she said there are "pros and cons" to the new system.
"I share people's frustration," she said.
Normally Sudds drives to work four days out of five.
Unlike last year when she could take a single bus from Kanata to downtown, she takes a bus from a park and ride in Kanata to Tunney's Pasture station to switch to the Confederation Line.
If OC Transpo is running as it should, her commute takes an hour - about 10 minutes longer than last year - but that's only happened a couple of times this week, she said.
Her rides have been delayed by as much as 45 minutes and one day her total commute to city hall and back was three hours.
"That is absolutely unacceptable. There's no reason why there should have been that much uncertainty in the system for what would have been a two-hour commute," said Sudds.
She hopes the delay issues are resolved with help from outside experts and looks forward to seeing changes to OC Transpo's GPS system which, she said, often gives commuters inaccurate arrival times for buses at Tunney's Pasture.
'I've been very fortunate'
Coun. Tim Tierney, who is also taking part in the challenge for a second year after returning from vacation on Wednesday, said his commute time is unchanged compared to when his route was entirely on buses.
The Beacon Hill-Cyrville councillor now takes a bus to Blair station, where he gets off at uOttawa station and walks to City Hall.
"I've been very fortunate, I haven't had many delays," he said of this year's commutes.
That doesn't mean the rides are perfect.
Tierney has seen the crowding at Blair station and smelled a pungent, eggy odour infamous at Rideau station wafting into uOttawa station.
"I know there's actually a plan to attack a lot of those [issues]," he said.
Still, Tierney and Sudds remain strong proponents of Ottawa's $2.1-billion light rail system and believe with time, it will improve.
Sudds says she enjoys using her commute to wind down or finish up some work.
"I listen to music. I catch up on emails. It is actually productive time. If I'm driving, it's not necessarily productive."
Tierney said it gives him a chance to easily connect with voters.
Both councillors plan to continue to drive their vehicles to work most days after the challenge is finished Sunday.
Source: CBC News